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Been There June 16, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cats.
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… and I miss it. Wanna go back.


I Will Invent A Conspiracy Theory June 12, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
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This week’s news that IHOP, the International House of Pancakes, is changing its name to IHOB, the International House of Burgers, has struck many people as a monumentally stupid piece of rebranding.

Other burger chains trolled IHOP on Twitter, and social media buzzed with everyone’s hot take on it all.

Well, here’s mine – I think they’re trying to pull a New Coke on us.

If you’re not familiar with the New Coke conspiracy theory (to which I am a believer), Coke wanted to save money back in the early 80s by switching from the rising costs of cane sugar to the cheaper price of corn syrup to use as the sweetener in coke.

But as all of us who prefer Mexican Coke know, Coke made with cane sugar tastes different – slightly less sweet, slightly less syrupy.

If they switch sweeteners on Coke and do nothing else, they’ll ALREADY have a “New” Coke out there they’ll have to defend… I’m sure taste tests responding to the success of the Pepsi Challenge ads of the day told them that people noticed the difference in their oh-so-special formula, one that supposedly NO ONE could ever copy… so if people could taste a difference, they’d be destroying their own brand.

Destroy your brand, or pay through the nose for sugar forever?

OR – a clever con job! Formulate a FAKE New Coke that tastes like flat Pepsi, take sugar-Coke off the market and ONLY sell the Fake New Coke for just a few months, until peoples’ palates forget and the shelves are clear of the old stock.

THEN when your Fake New Coke inevitably bombs, make a big deal of a supposed “apology,” bring back what you tell people is the Old Coke they remember with a load of hoopla – only this time with the corn syrup – and everyone will be GLAD to have their “old” Coke back, and that they beat a big corporation, and that the big corporation listened to them, and all the free publicity as sales go right back up and keep going….all the while people not realizing that the formula has been switched after all.


Look closely on the grassy knoll in the Zapruder film… you’ll see that Coke bottle.

Bill Cosby drugged us all into believing it, too!

Anyway, whether or not the New Coke Conspiracy Theory is true, it’s well known enough that I think IHOP is trying the same thing.

IHOPs main competition, Denny’s, has been kicking its ass for the past few years. Denny’s revenues and earnings are steadily rising at a decent clip, with a nice jump recently in the past quarter, up an impressive 25%. Their stock is up a whopping 50% in the past year – think about that, the value of that company has grown by one half – have they – in one year? – added 50% more restaurants out there?

Where the FUCK would they put them? On top of the Denny’s that are ALREADY there, at every god damn highway stop in existence?

Nope – it’s same store sales that are up. And NOT just at breakfast, but throughout the day.

IHOP’s company, Dine Equity, also owns Appleby’s. Their stock, revenues, and earnings have tanked in the past three years, off about 20-25% from their peak. And lately the stock has a head and shoulders chart pattern, which often bodes badly.

IHOPs weakness has ALWAYS been their non-breakfast menu. So how do you compete with Denny’s?

Rebrand yourself as the lunch/dinner place via the “burger” ruse, get a lot of publicity… and get people to defend your pancakes.

Look online at how many “Who makes better pancakes, IHOP or Denny’s?” crapola there is.

Get people to defend your pancakes. That’s what this is ALL about.

Got pancakes in your name? CHANGE IT.

Oh, but not too expensively – just FLIP A LETTER IN YOUR EXISTING SIGNS AND LOGOS.

Think how easy it’ll be to flip it back in several months if I’m right and it’s “Here’s your old Coke!” all over again, and they look for the breakfast and pancake biz to go up as more people jump on Team IHOP and off the Denny’s train.

I’m not emotional about this (despite my clear insanity, thanks), I really could give a shit. I usually look for mom & pop type diners to find really good pancakes. I miss one in Burbank called Barron’s that burned down many years ago and never reopened.

To be honest, I’m fine with breakfast in either IHOP or Denny’s although I must admit, I’d never think of IHOP for anything BUT breakfast, and that’s what I think they’re trying to change.

I just wanna see if I wind up being right about this.


To paraphrase Frank Gorshin as The Riddler: EVERY CYNICAL BONE IN MY BODY WILL CRY HUZZAH! HUZZAH!


<– Bonus points if you recognize this guy.

Baseball Card Of The Day: 1959 Chick King June 12, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Baseball Cards.
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Just look at him, ladies. You KNOW he lives up to his name…

Must-See TV June 11, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, 1980s, Television.
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Vic Tayback racing Dune Buggies AND The San Diego Chicken??


Not to mention Cathy Lee Crosby, Erin Gray, Jayne Kennedy, Connie Sellecca, Victoria Principal and a bunch of soaking wet LA Rams cheerleaders, I’m pretty positive high school me would’ve been front row center back when this monstrosity aired, wondering where Adrienne Barbeau was.

Now, of course, the years of feminist enlightenment have taught me not to objectify women celebrities. I’ll be switching over to the Lifetime Movie channel instead.

Yeah, right.

I’ll be downloading this off some Ukranian torrent and watching it in slow motion with the sound off until I pass out. And that should take about fifteen seconds at my age.

I’m old and tired.

Perhaps I need Robert Conrad to be my coach. Now you & I know damn well he must have taken this WAY too seriously and screamed at those guys on his team for not pushing harder.

Well, maybe not that should-have-been-a-buddy-cop-show teaming of Louis Jourdan and Pat Harrington. See? Jourdan is the suave police detective on loan from Paris, while Pat plays his wacky informant who is a master of disguise…

This fall on CBS! We’re looking good!

But scream at Leif Garrett? Well, shit, who wouldn’t scream at Leif Garrett? Even the San Diego Chicken screamed at Leif Garrett.

It’s all cool in the end.  Conrad ordered up a big round of drinks at the bar afterwards and stuck Jamie Farr with the bill when he didn’t believe Farr’s “half the family dying, other half pregnant” story.

And is it just me, or is Connie Sellecca as a pool hustler the sexiest thing on there?

My pool cue is “Flying High,” Bevis…


Who Wants To Tell Them It’s Not Chocolate? June 11, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General.
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For that fresh, clean feeling.

I’ve Never Seen These Two Together In Color June 8, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General, Movies.
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Until today.

“I hope my Kodachrome impresses you, Rick.”

“It does, Ugarte. I am impressed with you now.”

Belmont Stakes Predictions 2018 June 6, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Horse Racing.
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The last moments of this year’s Preakness made me think that Justified would not win the Belmont and Triple Crown this year. He ran beautifully for the first mile and into the stretch, but a couple of closers gained on him steadily in the last moments, and had that race been another quarter mile, would have passed him easily.

So when I combine that performance, plus the amount of work for any horse to run in both of the first two legs of the Triple Crown, AND add the lousy draw Justify got for the Belmont at the rail position of 1, I gotta think he’s totally beatable.

I could see him getting off to a good start and keeping pace, but how easily will be get boxed in at the rail? And how could he spend the energy to get out and still have the stamina for that killer mile and a half length when there are fresher horses in this race, many of ’em great closers?

So while Justify is currently a big 4-5 favorite, and while I might include him in trifectas and supers at the 3-4 position, I don’t think I’ll be betting him to win.

Hey, it’d be cool if he did – Triple Crowns being as rare as they are –  but they’re rare for a reason.

So who do I think has what it takes to knock this one out?

Well, putting aside my bias as a Pats fan, I gotta like #6 Gronkowski (12-1) as a possibility, winner of some mile races overseas against admittedly weaker fields, but the overall time and class ratings on this one, plus some nice works on the Belmont track recently make him a very nice play at those high odds.

My other best bet would be the #10 Blended Citizen (15-1). I always like horses that skip both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness who drop into the Belmont fresh, and this one is that but not TOO fresh, winning the Peter Pan back on May 12. While he runs WAY better on artificial than on dirt, his ability to grind out the distance might be key here, and I think he’ll be in the money at the end, somewhere.

Both #7 Tenfold and #3 Bravazo chased Justify down at the end of the Preakness, and as I said before, in a longer race, Bravazo would have passed him – but if they’re chasing Justify down at 3rd or 4th position, I don’t see it as intense, and yet ANOTHER late closing horse who has the added rest of skipping the Preakness, #4 Hofburg (9-2) would be my pick for passing them.

So what might those exotics look like? Well, I’d have the 4-6-10 for getting in the money, with maybe adding the 1, 3 and 7 into third/fourth in a super. Dunno yet, I’ll sleep on it a couple of nights and see. But if I’m right about the 4-6-10 up front, the exotics should pay nicely, as they often do in this, my favorite of the Triple Crowns to bet.

Must See TV June 5, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in 1970s, Television.
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I thought the Yankees had a great line-up, but Dorothy Hamill’s got it beat.

Whenever I see Avery Schreiber and Professor Irwin Corey, I think “disco ice dancing,” I’m sure you do as well. Unless the Hamill Camel comes to mind.

The High Point Of My Day June 2, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cats, Writing.
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I’m still used to waking up early, and got up without an alarm by 7am today, so I figured I’d make the most of it and troll a bunch of yardsales in my area.

Came up empty on the sales – a nice Starter NY Yankees jacket was the find, but it was a tad too big on me – but at one sale, the family’s Siamese cat wandered among the meager offerings and allowed me some serious pettin’ time.

They told me he loves everyone and loves when they have yardsales, and that was certainly the case. He made sure I took care of every important face petting spot, and then even flipped over on his back for me to give him a belly rub. He was a total attention whore to be sure, but I didn’t want to leave him alone.

I miss my Siamese kitty. So I went to the WHORE DOWN THE STREET for some ACTION.

They told me they found him as a kitten, abandoned in a box at the park down the hill.

So all at the same time, I thought about how some people are total scum and deserve to die, while other people are just plain wonderful.

So, kitty time and no new crap for the packrat pile.

The rest of Saturday will be writing character backstory biographies for Wagstaff 3 so that I can maintain motive continuity later on. Well, that’s how I do it anyway. I can’t speak for other mystery writers.

Chester Gould supposedly dug fake graves in his backyard for the characters he killed off in “Dick Tracy.” I’d love to be THAT crazy, but digging up my yard is too much work, and it’s gonna hit 100 today, looks like.

Indoors. A/C a’runnin’. Yankees then Stanley Cup Game 3. Sounds like a plan.

The only reason to go back out would be to pet the cat again.



Launching Wagstaff Summer 2018 June 1, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in General, Movies, Writing.
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Starting it off right – today I set a new record for alcohol purchases for a single day by replenishing different departments. Between a Trader Joes run and then a Costco trip, I refilled the ol’ wine fridge with a nice assortment, grabbed a new monster-sized Bulleit Rye (which I came back to after a brief sampling of some others, both for taste and for the Costco value), and then figured “Why not? snagging a 24 pack of Modelo regular and Modelo Negro.

I was also a good boy and donated 2 big boxes of books I culled from my overstocked library, picking out stuff I’ll never read or never read again, or in the case of numerous old reference books, never use again. I also took an old computer to be recycled. Lots more room in here to stretch out, that is until I inevitably buy more books to fill the opened up shelf space.

No books at an estate sale I happened upon on the way to Costco, but I did manage to grab some nice vintage kitchen items. They don’t make Tupperware like that anymore, y’know.

But the big plans this summer have to do with getting more books ready. First up will be a young adult scifi adventure novel I wrote sometime back that has spent enough time bouncing around Hollywood hell and ought to just get an Amazon release. It will be the first book in a series, so if y’all like the characters & the concept once you check it out, there’ll be more to come. Watch this space in the next few weeks for more details and previews and the like. This one will have illustrations and a more complex interior design, so I’ll need to be experimenting with that aspect. Aiming for a late summer/early fall release.

And yes, it IS the actual “kid’s book” referenced repeatedly in the Wagstaff detective series. It really does exist. I can write clean material, really I can.

For those of you who want to take the escalator up to the Adult Department of Berkin Inc.,  the raw material for the third entry in the Wagstaff detective series is pretty much all organized and ready to work with.  I will also spend the summer banging out a draft of Wagstaff 3. Stay tuned for more on that as well, not sure of a release time yet.

I know, I know… work work work (Hello boys, I missed you…)

But as long as I can get into a routine and concentrate, I think I can git ‘r all done. Not sure if I need Jonathan Shields to light my pipe and fly in my favorite rocking chair from my cushy southern university post teaching medieval history, but then again, I’m not sure I’d want him around after he set up my overheated southern belle wife played by Gloria Grahame to run off with Gilbert Roland and die in a plane crash.

I don’t smoke a pipe.

I don’t write in a rocking chair.

The married to overheated Gloria Grahame part I like, although I don’t think I’d want to come home and find her in bed with my 13 year old son from a previous marriage like Nicholas Ray did. I wouldn’t want to come home and find her in bed with Nicholas Ray, either.

Might be best just to watch those great old noirs she turns up in.

If you’ve never seen “The Bad & The Beautiful” I strongly recommend it. And NOT just to better understand parts of Wagstaff 3. And that’s the only big fat hint you’re getting at this point, mac.